A four-year wait for a grant approval from the Texas A&M Forest Service recently paid off for the Garrett Volunteer Fire Department.
The grant — totaling $110,000 — is a 90-percent matching grant and will fund the purchase of a new brush truck for the rural, all-volunteer department.
David Mach, a volunteer firefighter and the preparer of the grant, stated, “I started working on this grant four years ago with the help of Wildfire Truck and Equipment to put this grant together. It had been so long that we had almost forgotten about it."
Garrett VFD Fire Chief Randy Thomas said the department first learned they received the grant in August but will have to wait until May for the truck to arrive.
“But when we get it, it will be fully loaded. It will include cameras and communications equipment so we can stay in contact with our firefighters,” Thomas explained.
To determine the need and qualification for equipment, the Texas A&M Forest Service looks at other area departments, comparing their size and coverage area to the agency applying for the grant. The Texas A&M Forest Service works to determine the most substantial needs for the entire state.
“This truck is replacing a 1995 truck that is worn out," Garrett VFD Captain Kameron Raburn elaborated. "The old truck only seats two where the new one will seat five. The 94 almost needs two people to start it — one to move the steering wheel and another to hold the key just right."
Raburn added, “We are really excited about getting the new truck. It will be a great asset to the department to be able to improve safety and save many lives while it is in service.”
While the new truck is designed to be a brush truck, it will have several other purposes.
“It will save us money assisting with medical emergencies, car wrecks and be a first responder to structure fires because it is cheaper to operate than our larger truck,” Thomas said.
"The new truck has a water capacity of 400 gallons. This will get there faster and start to get a fire under control until our larger truck with a one-thousand tank can get to the scene." He continued, “If we had been delayed any more, we would have to wait another three months for 2018.”
For the truck to be complete with the latest technology for firefighting, firefighter safety and rescue, the department will still need to raise the additional $5,000 to cover what the $110,000 grant will not.
The department will hold its first-ever fish fry on Good Friday at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Good Friday is Friday, March 30.
“I feel for certain the community will come out and support us as they have for many years," Thomas expressed.